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Court Blocks Reopening of Schools

Reopening of schools is now uncertain again as after a court order issued today that could mean learners staying at home for even longer. All learners in secondary and primary schools have been stuck at home since March following the closure of all learning institutions to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

A Kisii High Court has directed the Ministry of Education to open schools only after complying with COVID-19 regulations as recommended by the Ministry of Education.

The court order comes after the government revealed it could not be able to protect learners and teachers as well against the novel coronavirus when schools reopen.

 The reopening of all basic education institutions was to happen on 12th Monday, 2020, as ordered by Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha on Tuesday. Principals and teachers have been preparing for the reopening of schools since September 28, 2020. Teachers have been reporting work as they strategized on ways of receiving the students and ensuring their protection against COVID-19 upon reopening.

The Ruling

Justice K. Ndung’u, in his judgment, supported the mediation agreement between eight parents and respondents. The eight parents had filed a petition on May 28, 2020. The respondents comprised Cabinet Secretary of Education, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, and the Attorney General.

“After hearing the petitioners, counsels of the respondents and the mediator Mr. John Onyiego, it is therefore ordered that the mediation agreement duly signed by parties and dated August 25, 2020, and which is duly signed by all parties is adopted as the judgment of the court,” ruled the judge on Thursday.

On Tuesday, Education CS George Magoha announced the reopening of both public and private schools. Schools had been closed by the government for six months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Prof George Magoha had announced on Tuesday that the phased reopening would begin with students in Grade 4, those in Class 8, and Form 4 who the Ministry of Education directed to report to schools as from October 12, 2020.

The Revised 2020 Academic Calendar

The Ministry of Education had directed learners reporting to schools to continue learning until December 23, 2020, when their 11-weeks second term was to end. After that, there would be a one-week break for Christmas.

The third Term would run from January 4, 2020, to March 19, 2020. The third term also has 11 weeks.

Revised 2020 School calendar for Examination Candidates and Grade 4 learners

According to CS Magoha, the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination is to be done between March 25, 2021, and April 16, 2021.

Kenya Certificate of Primary School (KCPE) on the other hand, is to commence on March 19, 2021, and run for three days, ending on March 24, 2021.

Marking of KCSE

The KCSE examinations are to be officially marked between the 19th of April 2021 to May 7, 2020. This means that the marking of KCSE will be done in three weeks.

The rest of the students have not been directed on when to resume classes. This is because the government intended to use the classes that are reopening as a guideline on how the other classes will be allowed to resume learning.

However, if we go by Dr. Sarah Ruto’s task-force recommendations, the remaining students are probably reopening two weeks from Monday, October 12, 2020.

Petitioner’s warning

One of the Petitioners Mr. Oloo Gor, however, warned that they could file a contempt of court if the Education Ministry went ahead to reopen schools for Grade 4, Class Eight, and Form Four on Monday, October 12, 2020, without ensuring that schools have adhered to COVID-19 rules.

The COVID rules issued by the Ministry of Health include sanitization and washing of hands, keeping a 1.5-meter social distance, and students to stay at home if infected with COVID-19.

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